CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mecklenburg County has its first coronavirus cluster at a K-12 school, Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris announced Friday.
Six COVID-19 cases have been reported at Covenant Day School, a private Christian School, located in Matthews. Harris said both students and teachers are among those who tested positive - and a whole class of people is now under full quarantine.
“I mean we've had other cases in other schools but this was the first one that rose to the cluster level,” Harris said.
A cluster is defined as 5 or more positive cases.
“What we're seeing is that most of the cases are coming from outside exposures, not in the school setting,” she said.
Since August roughly 30 of the county’s private schools have returned to some form of in-person learning, but this marks the first official cluster.
News of this school cluster comes as coronavirus cases continue to decline across the county. County health officials say there have been 72 positive cases this week, compared to an average of 75 cases over the last 14 days.
“Our schools have been doing a fairly good job with the masking and with the social distancing. What these initial clusters have given us an opportunity to do is to make sure they are implementing the plans the way they need to,” she says.
Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools reopening plan
Harris say the public health department has been working closely with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools as they prepare to return to some in-person learning as well. Part of that partnership is, she says, has been monitoring metrics.
“We had some conversation with them this morning and almost all of those are in the green now,” she said, “At this point we're comfortable with the plans the schools have put in place, we’re comfortable with the training they’ve made available to teachers,” said Harris.
"We are supportive of in class instruction at some level within our community," she said. "We'll continue to address issues that come up as they move back into the classrooms."
Harris said the health department worked with CMS on a plan that included broad metrics or markers. Many of those metrics are now in the green zone, according to Harris.
There are no clusters in any CMS schools.
Mecklenburg County coronavirus stats
Mecklenburg County is currently in what's considered the "yellow zone" by health leaders. That means the percent of positive Covid-19 tests is between 5 and 10 percent and there are between 10 and 100 cases per 100,000 people. Harris noted that the yellow zone does not restrict schools from opening.
Mecklenburg County health leaders continue to educate the public about the spread of Coronavirus and ways to slow that spread. One of the spots where health leaders are particularly concerned about are churches and places or worship. Health leaders say many don't comply with social distancing and mask wearing mandates.
"We need everyone to do the following: comply with the three W's - wearing your mask, washing your hands and wait six feet apart - and to avoid gathers and to get your flu shot," said Harris.
As of Thursday, there were 79 new cases of the virus reported in the county. That was a slight jump over the day before, but testing was also up on Thursday, according to Mecklenburg County health leaders.
The percent positive number of Coronavirus cases is down in the county over the last 14 days. Mecklenburg County's latest data shows the number of tests coming back positive is 5.2%.
The county has reported a total of 350 deaths due to the virus. Health officials said almost all of the deaths were among older adults, although 4 deaths occurred in adults between the ages of 20 and 39 and 46 deaths were reported in ages 40 to 59. All of the deaths, except for five, were among adults with underlying, chronic illnesses.
According to health officials, people between the ages of 20 and 39 are continue to contract Covid-19 at a much higher percentage than other age groups in Mecklenburg County. About three in four reported cases were adults ages 20 to 59 years old.
During the past week, an average of 91 individuals with laboratory confirmed COVID-19 infections were hospitalized at acute care facilities in Mecklenburg County. According to health officials, this was a decrease over the last 14 days.